Fairtrade - How it works

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Yes, thats why we only practise direct trade. I am on record again and again espousing relationship coffee over FT. In saying that I will add in the below comment:

BUT for sure not many companies are in the position of roasting at origin (like us) or being based in the US or Europe and having enough money and/or knowledgeable personel to be able to spend time at origin.

I would rather sooner, than later, more roasters moved towards direct relationship coffee systems with smallholders/coops at origin
Alun Evans said:
Yes, thats why we only practise direct trade.

Would you be willing to explain how you guys do direct trade in a step by step process?
Speaking as a 100% fair trade organic roaster!
Is fair trade perfect? No!
But that being said it is a system that has some good points & with strong support (or a kick in the @$$) from its members (& public) it will evolve into an even better system.
I strongly believe in 3rd party certification whether its fair trade, organic or other!
As a company, we are looking towards a direct relation system in the near future cause we also think this is the proper way to grow!
But if you loose that third party balance & check system, who is to say that the values and principals of direct trade or fair trade are being met??
With out a doubt companies such as Merdeka Coffee are true to their word.
I do however question some of the large companies out there that are jumping onto the direct trade terminology and implying that they are “socially just” in what they are doing cause they have the marketing budget to say so!

One system is obviously not the answer;
Direct trade, fair trade, organic, sustainable practices, supporting local, sustainable economies, sustainable local economies, fair working environments, carbon neutral, any others jump in???

But we are all working towards the answers & enjoying the process!!
FT has definitely benefited the producers who have been fortunate enough to be a part of it. I do think that it is a great program and have done a lot with FT, FT farmers, and FT coffees. To me it is very similar to a minimum wage system. Not every farmer is going to be lucky enough to have the best farm on the top of the hill with the best water, sun light, CO2 levels, etc... these farmers need something sustainable however. So, if quality is not going to lead them to top dollar prices, maybe infrastructure will. In a lot of areas, smaller farmers can in fact get fair trade wages. Maybe not everywhere though. As for migrant workers, not every person is going to be lucky enough to have a minimum wage job here either. (Migrants here for example.) There does need to be a lot more done in this area. The way I look at it is that FT is a great place to start. We need to continue to help represent our farmer's coffees well so that they can earn top dollar. Getting more direct with the farmer is another way to get more money into the farmers hand.

On another note, the above graph is very vague and pretty much proof text. I mean, for those of you who are all fair trade, Great!! Keep on doing it. The vast majority of coffee that is grown is extremely low grade commodity coffee. These farmers are making nothing. Fair trade is VASTLY better than this. There will be naysayers with any and all programs. Don't be discouraged. But, at the same time, continue to educate yourselves about fair trade, direct trade, commodities, etc...

One more thing I feel I must say. Since a taste experience is what we are selling, do not confuse a fair trade or organic label with quality. Yes, these coffees are usually specialty grade, however, they are not usually going to be your ground breaking coffees. They are great. They are not low grade. But all too often I hear people using these terms synonymously with super high end quality. I also have witnessed SO MANY CUSTOMERS pass by unbelievably delicious coffees, while being led by a barista to the fair trade coffees. When a coffee brings more money to the farmer and is a better product for the costumer, why would we lead them to something different?

Rambling.... sorry.
In my estimation Free Trade is a starting point not a destination. It's a basic standard like minumum wage.
Torn. The desired end state is commendable.. But when only certain farmers/plantations can meet the requirements in terms of the capacity and fees required, it doesn't sound at all equitable and contrasts sharply to the social consciousness it seeks to spread amongst consumers.

I would venture the guess that most consumers (just as I did) are happy to see the 'Fair Trade' logo on the coffee, but wouldn't take the time to think critically about the process and who such a noble cause would truly benefit.

With a more equitable system, I think that the Fair Trade certification is a magnificent way to draw a line between coffees that were traded at a fair price and those that involved an unfair trade, but right now it seems to something of a hollow guarantee. The farmers that can afford the certification, by virtue of having this option, are not the ones I would most like to see benefiting from fair trade.
Also, I think FT Certification is only available to farmers who are members of co-operatives...Can anyone corroborate this?
Yes you are right!
I have met farmers who are very frustrated by this fact!

Stickman said:
Also, I think FT Certification is only available to farmers who are members of co-operatives...Can anyone corroborate this?
I am new to the coffee industry, in my first year, but have many years of experience in the seafood industry which had a similar program called the MSC. This was focused on sustainability rather than economic equity. The biggest problem with this type of organization is that it desperately tries to perpetuate itself. This will likely become the leading force in the organization, if it has not already. Its just human nature, no evil intent.

What might be a good solution for small independent shops (like myself) is to coop on our side of the process with like-minded shops to give us the horse power to direct-trade. We are affiliated with a small roaster and believe direct trade is the answer.
I could not agree more.

Stickman said:
In my estimation Free Trade is a starting point not a destination. It's a basic standard like minumum wage.
Are there any Farmers out there with first hand experience with Fair Trade Certification?
You might want to ask if there are farmers out there withOUT firsthand experience with FT Cert'n!

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